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Gluten-Free Food Labeling Summit 2011

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Last week, my husband and I decided last minute to join the crowd in D.C. for the 1 in 133 event. I really didn’t think we would be able to attend, but decided that we could skip out on some after school activities for such an important event. So, I picked up the kids at school and headed to D.C. to pick up my husband and join the event.

We arrived toward the end of the cake building. The top was being placed, and the decorative frosting was being added to the sides. The kids and I even got to decorate a couple smaller cakes that were added at the bottom. We stayed as long as we could and still get the kids home to bed on time. It was a good night to reconnect with fellow Celiacs I hadn’t seen for a long time and meet some new gluten-free friends, too.

I took some photos of the cake, and a few of the kids.  I talked with Linda of The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Jules Shepherd of Jules Gluten Free, John Forberger the Gluten-Free Triathlete, Dr. Alessio Fasano of The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, and so many more.

It really was a great event with many gluten free experts, researchers, sponsors, food manufacturers, bloggers, celiacs, supporters, etc. Also present was a member of the FDA who was there to hear our plea for federal regulation on gluten-free food labels. There really were so many other people there who were instrumental in bringing the night’s event together, but unfortunately I didn’t get all those names and titles. I guess I didn’t have my reporter hat on that night.

I’ll bet you’re wondering if there was any news from the event. I can tell you that the cake was 11’2″ tall. And, the talk about the gluten-free labeling law sounded encouraging. It was difficult to hear the speakers, especially with two fidgety young kids. So, that’s about all of the information I can offer. For more specific details of the event, read Amy Ratner’s more thorough report at Gluten-Free Living. For additional photos and videos of the event, check out the post at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

There is still more work to do. Please show your support of the effort any way you can:

Categories : Events, Newsworthy
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This has been a busy year for my family for a variety of reasons. And, as such, I haven’t been able to share as much as I wanted to on Celiac Family. But, as this is Celiac Awareness month, I’m going to give my best effort to getting more than just menu plans done this month. - Support Gluten-Free Food Labeling1 in 133 -  It’s a Big Deal! I’m starting with a newsworthy event happening in Washington D.C. on May 4, 2011. You may or may not know that the FDA was expected to have ruled on proper labeling of gluten-free products by now. We expected the determination and law to be effective in 2008. Well, it’s now 2011, and we are still waiting for them to make a decision.

Why do we need a labeling law? Well, most importantly, to ensure that products are not being labeled “gluten free” when, in fact, they aren’t. As it is now, the FDA has not made a ruling about what determines if a product is gluten free or not. We who eat gluten free have relied on our own gluten free community to research products and ingredients. And, as a gluten free community, we have questioned companies to tell us about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. We have made progress, but as the community grows, so will the gluten-free food products, companies, and…well…mistakes, mislabeling, and misunderstandings of what “gluten free” means.

The good news is that the FDA did pass the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 which mandates that the top allergens be clearly identified either in the ingredients or in a separate allergen statement. So, that means that if there is any wheat or any derivative of wheat in the product, it must be clearly labeled. Since wheat is the biggest offender contributing gluten to products, that makes it easier for Celiacs to determine the gluten content of food products.

The bad news is that barley, rye, oats, and malt, which also contain gluten, do not have to be clearly identified on the label. In some cases, the label could include those gluten-containing ingredients in “natural flavoring” or other vague listing. To further complicate the matter, a product can have no gluten in the ingredients but still have gluten in the product due to cross-contamination in the processing of it. So, you can see why so many people (including me) feel it is so necessary to have a ruling about what must be on the food labels, and when a company can state that their product is gluten free.

More good news. As part of the FALCP Act of 2004, the FDA was charged with continuing its work on gluten labeling.  SEC. 206. on GLUTEN LABELING states, “Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with appropriate experts and stakeholders, shall issue a proposed rule to define, and permit use of, the term  “gluten-free” on the labeling of foods. Not later than 4 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a final rule to define, and permit use of, the term “gluten-free” on the labeling of foods.”

More bad news. It sounded promising, and certainly seemed like a reasonable amount of time to get it done. The research was done and a proposed ruling was registered in 2007. But still, there is no official ruling in 2011. There have been efforts over the past couple years to try to get the gluten free labeling issue back to the top of the priorities. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much progress from the FDA.

Now what? 1 in 133 is a new effort for bringing the issue back to the forefront. The name 1 in 133 was chosen to emphasize the fact that one in 133 Americans are estimated to have Celiac Disease, making it the most common genetic disorder in North America. (Surprised at that number? Maybe that’s because about 95% of those with Celiac Disease have not been diagnosed yet.)

Taking place on May 4th in D.C. will be the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit, an event designed to bring attention to the need for clear, accurate, and reliable labeling of gluten content in food products. The event will feature the building of the world’s largest gluten-free cake. Along with the organizers and other supporters of the event, I hope this enormous cake gets the attention of lawmakers to help us push this effort forward, and finally get a ruling on gluten-free labeling.

What can you do to help this effort? Please visit the website 1 in 133. You can find more information about the organization, the project, sign a petition, and donate money for the cause.

Additional Notes on Food Labeling:

  • This press release from the FDA states “Effective January 1, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring food labels to clearly state if food products contain any ingredients that contain protein derived from the eight major allergenic foods. As a result of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), manufacturers are required to identify in plain English the presence of ingredients that contain protein derived from milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans in the list of ingredients or to say “contains” followed by name of the source of the food allergen after or adjacent to the list of ingredients.”
  • The current regulations on food labeling in the US indicate that they are also in the process of making a determination of what “gluten free” means. The proposed recommendation is 20 ppm.
  • For further information on food labeling, you can check the Q&A on the FDA food labeling proposal for gluten.
Categories : Events, Newsworthy
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We have a winner! Hannah Gray (Comment #11) was randomly chosen as the GF Holiday Giveaway Galore winner at Celiac Family.

Ten winners were chosen for the giveaway, one at each of the hosting websites. Hannah and the other winners will each receive the wonderful new book “Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?” and the fabulous box of gluten-free goodies. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase a copy of the book today and get it in time for Christmas. 

What Helped You the Most When You Started the Gluten-Free Diet?

Thank you to all the readers who participated in the giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, I asked readers to tell me about what helped them the most when they first started on the gluten-free diet. Hannah said for her, it was Trader Joe’s gluten free brownies. “With my first bite I said ok I think I can do this. Just knowing I could have that simple treat made it all worth it!”

There were so many good answers that deserved repeating and linking. So, here’s what CeliacFamily readers said helped them the most when getting started on the gluten-free diet. Maybe you’ll find them helpful for you too.

Food Products

Gluten-Free Flours and Baking Mixes

Gluten-Free Frozen Foods

  • Amy’s gluten-free, vegetarian meals
  • Cedar Lane meals

Grocery Stores

Online Resources

People Support

  • Doctors
  • Friends and Family
  • Local support groups

Books: The G-Free Diet

Categories : Giveaway, Newsworthy
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More Quick & Easy Gluten-Free Meals

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The 30 Days of Quick and Easy Meals on has come to an end. For a complete list of all 30 meals in the series, check out the roundup that Carrie recently posted.

Go check it out now, so you can enter her giveaway, too! The giveaway includes Carol Fenster’s new cookbook Gluten-Free Quick & Easy, as well as GingerLemonGirl’s e-book and two 30-minute gluten-free cooking/baking coaching sessions.

And here are a few more quick and easy recipes from Celiac Family:

Notable Links:


Gluten-Free Meals made Quick and Easy

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Today, I am featured as a guest blogger on Carrie is hosting a 30-day series of quick and easy gluten-free meals on her site. You can find a list of the first 15 bloggers and a link to each quick and easy recipe on Monday’s post at Celiac Family. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should really take a look. There are some really good-looking recipes that you can prepare for your family in very little time at all.

For today (Day 21 of the series), I submitted a very easy, but tasty recipe for Baked Salmon with Dill. With just a few ingredients and an oven, you can have it ready to eat in less than 20 minutes.

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